Varus Build Guide by Hoodstomp

Not Updated For Current Season

This guide has not yet been updated for the current season. Please keep this in mind while reading. You can see the most recently updated guides on the browse guides page.

League of Legends Build Guide Author Hoodstomp

Varus AKA Robin Hood-stomp

Hoodstomp Last updated on January 3, 2014
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Ability Sequence

Ability Key Q
Ability Key W
Ability Key E
Ability Key R

Not Updated For Current Season

The masteries shown here are not yet updated for the current season, the guide author needs to set up the new masteries. As such, they will be different than the masteries you see in-game.



Offense: 21

Legendary Guardian

Defense: 9


Utility: 0

table of contents

1. introduction
a little about the author and Varus
2. pros and cons
the strengths and weaknesses of Varus
3. masteries
what masteries should I use?

4. runes
what runes should I use?
5. summoners
what summoner spells should I take?
6. abilities
what are Varus' abilities and what should I max?

7. items
what build should I go on Varus?
8. matchups
who does Varus do good against in lane? who does he lose against?
9. supports
how does Varus fare with or against with x support?

10. laning phase
how should I start out the game as Varus? do I play it aggressively early?
11. team fights
what should I do before the fight? what about my Blighted Quiver?

In case some of you don't know me, I'm Hoodstomp, someone who used to play League of Legends professionally. Currently, I'm a top amatuer/high elo solo queue player. My favorite role to play is AD Carry, and I also have the most knowledge in the role of an AD Carry. My main account is in Diamond 1 and I also have a couple smurfs spread around, mostly in diamond elo.

This is my third guide, and Varus is another one of my favorite champions. He's definitely my favorite champion to play as of late as well. Be sure to follow me on Twitter if you want to know whenever I have a new guide out, or on the rare occasion I might be streaming!

Varus is a very powerful and versatile AD carry. He has the highest level of early game dominance, besides Draven, out of all the ADCs. He also brings something most ADCs do not — HUGE utility. Varus has the ability to poke ( Piercing Arrow), kite ( Hail of Arrows, Chain of Corruption), and apply an AoE CC ( Chain of Corruption) with his unique kit. Varus may not be able to "hard carry" through brute force, but he can definitely snowball the entire game by himself. He can be bit difficult to play, but in the right hands he can be truly devastating.


+ Extremely strong laner, both in 2v1 and 2v2 lanes.
+ Excels at killing tanks with his Blighted Quiver stack combos.
+ AoE CC with Chain of Corruption.
+ Good at taking down neutral monsters ( Baron , Dragon ).
+ Good poke with Piercing Arrow.
+ Most utility offered by an ADC.
Varus is strong throughout most of the game, and the early game is his strong point. His Blighted Quiver stacks allows Varus to chunk anyone down with a combo. His ultimate, Chain of Corruption is a nice AoE CC, snaring the first enemy hit by it and can spread to nearby enemy champions, allowing for easy follow-up by your teammates. With Blighted Quiver, it also allows him to take down neutral monsters like Baron and dragon quickly. His Piercing Arrow is good poke at max level and range as well. It's easy to see that Varus is the best utility ADC there is, and that's one of his best highlights.


- No escape like some ADCs, leaving him vulnerable to champions such as Malphite and Nautilus.
- Passive isn't useful until an enemy dies in fights.
- Doesn't carry as hard as others such as Vayne, Tristana, and Kog'Maw.
- Chain of Corruption can be hard to land.
- High skillcap.
- Has a funny walk animation.
As with a few other ADCs, Varus lacks a built-in escape, resulting in Varus being reliant on Flash to get himself away from any champion with dashes in case his abilities are down. Living Vengeance, his passive, also only is useful in fights when someone on the enemy team dies, which can't always be guaranteed. Unfortunately, Varus isn't as good of a hard carry as Vayne, Tristana, or Kog'Maw. Because of the many skillshots Varus's kit has, it gives him a high skillcap. His ultimate, Chain of Corruption, can be hard to land as well. Lastly, his walk animation is funny.

21 points into offense. 5 points into defense. 4 points into utility.

// The offense masteries are pretty self-explanatory. It's the standard 21 points into the offense tree. Butcher is useful for killing minions while everything else is for dunking people. The important points picked up are points in armor penetration and extra damage, such as the last point being put into Executioner . The 21 points ensure you have plenty of damage sustained throughout the game.

// The 5 points into defense may seem to be a strange choice, but only because the 4 points in the utility are important on Varus. Summoner's Resolve is useful for your second summoner, either Barrier or Cleanse. Durability gives a little extra health for those 1-hp escapes, while Hardiness gives a minimal amount of armor useful during laning.

// The 4 points into utility is useful. The reduced cooldown on Flash received from Summoner's Insight is important for that slightly shorter cooldown. Meditation is picked up because of Varus's dependence on his spells, resulting in him needing the crucial mana.

The 9 AD marks for runes are the basics. Everyone takes these on ADCs because it helps with trading and last hitting in lane. It gives you that extra AD that also will help you be able to take down towers early, especially useful and important in 2v1s.

All armor seals are also basic runes for ADCs. It keeps you from taking too much damage from champions, minions, and on the rare occasion, towers. This is important because the extra armor allows you to be able to trade easier in lane, resulting in less damage taken. During mid-game, the armor keeps you from being blown up by any farmed AD assassin.

The magic resist runes are useful in lane when taking poke from supports like Sona, reducing a little bit of damage. During mid-game to late-game, it reduces a little of the burst from those strong AP mages. The mana regeneration runes are helpful for reducing the burden of Varus's mana costs after using his spells.

Usually, you'll want to be taking two lifesteal quintessences and one flat AD quintessence. The two lifesteal quints make sustaining in lane easier. When paired with your Doran's Blade that you'll be starting with, auto-attack the creeps if you're taking any damage. The AD adds to your Greater Mark of Attack Damages that you took, making last hitting and trading easier. Lifesteal quintessences are taken because of the Season 3 nerf to Vampiric Scepter. Another option is to take three lifesteal quints and it's up to personal preference.


This is the spell that there is absolutely no question about. Flash is a skill you'll probably see a vast majority taking on any champion, and for good reason. It provides you a source of escape from any of those bad situations you may be facing. If an assassin jumps on you, you can flash over a wall to escape safely. Throughout all the nerfs, it's still very strong.


Barrier is a summoner spell that was added to Summoner's Rift in Season 3, so it's somewhat new. Barrier is a summoner that provides you a shield, blocking a certain amount of damage for 2 seconds. Make sure to pop Barrier if you know a large amount of burst damage is headed your way. Another way is to barrier-bait your enemies in a 1v1 situation by saving it until you're low, then using it to shield yourself while you get the killing blow on them. If you're facing someone else with Barrier, try not to get barrier-baited yourself!

OR.. Cleanse

Cleanse is a summoner spell that can be proven handy in certain situations. If you see that you're up against a CC heavy team, definitely take Cleanse over Barrier. It can save your life from that crucial Nami Aqua Prison or a Crescendo from Sona. It'll be useful both in lane and during team fights. Do remember it also reduces any incoming CC by 65% as well.

Ability Sequence
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

> > >

Living Vengeance (Passive)

Living Vengeance is very a good passive for laning, this is up for pretty much the entire lane phase as you are constantly CS. This is the biggest reason Varus is OP in lane. You can always have 20% attack speed steroid. It also makes switching targets and trading a breeze. When an actual fight happens, it can be lackluster until an enemy dies. When it does activate, your damage increases massively though and you can usually clean up shop. I've been in intense fights where I lived with around 100 HP and my passive procc'd. It resulted in me being able to lifesteal enough because of the extra attack speed and live!

Piercing Arrow (Q)

Piercing Arrow is one of the highest damage, non-ultimate skills in the game (if it's fully charged). This skill is amazing for sniping enemies that are trying to escape or softening them up with some poke before an engage. It also procs your Blighted Quiver so it's great for melting tanks with Blighted Quiver combos as well. It can be hard to hit sometimes, but at max range it always feels satisfying!

Blighted Quiver (W)

Blighted Quiver is a pretty unique skill. It gives you a bit of bonus magic damage on autos, which is nice for the laning phase, making CSing that much easier. The bonus damage is negligible when compared to the power that the blight stacks give you. Every time you land an auto, Blighted Quiver puts up a blight stack (maximum 3 stacks) when triggered by any of your other abilities, deals % magic damage. Blight stacks do a good amount of damage, especially if you have 3 up and especially against tankier targets (because of the % damage). It is important to combo your stacks and abilities when you're trying to do maximum damage to high-priority targets.

Hail of Arrows (E)

This is your bread and butter. Hail of Arrows is the skill that you ALWAYS max first and the skill that gives you the most consistent damage. You use this to poke your enemy in lane. It's GREAT for trading because it gives a healing debuff (much like Ignite), slows, AND does damage; what more could you ask for? Try to make sure you have some Blighted Quiver stacks up before using it to maximize your damage.

Chain of Corruption (R)

Chain of Corruption is the most overpowered skill in Varus's entire kit. It is an AoE CC that also does significant damage. You'll want to use this whenever a fight starts, either on a priority target that is caught or a bruiser that is trying to dive you. The snare is pretty damn long, giving you a lot of room to breathe in fights. When you're in a situation where it's not a teamfight and you're trying to hit a single target with Chain of Corruption, you probably want to slow them first with Hail of Arrows. It'll make landing Chain of Corruption easier because it can be missed pretty easily.

This item is what you'll see everyone starting on ADCs now. Doran's Blade gives you a good amount of health and damage, allowing you an easier time trading in lane. This also helps when last hitting minions, especially under your tower. The passive 5 life-gain on each auto-attack may not seem like much, but when you pair it with your lifesteal from your quintessences, it adds up to be a good amount of sustain. If you're low on health or getting poked down a lot, be sure to attack minions to heal back!

your first back


As it starts to reach mid-game, you'll pick up your core items. Assuming you went even/ahead in lane, you'll have picked up The Bloodthirster. It provides a good amount of lifesteal, but make sure to stack it to a full 30 stacks via minion/neutral creep/champion kills as fast as possible. It provides +100 AD and +18% lifesteal when fully stacked, giving you a lot of power. If no one on the enemy team is extremely fed, pair this with a Statikk Shiv and you'll be melting the enemies. The scaling on your Piercing Arrow and Hail of Arrows benefit very much from the gained AD.

blade of the ruined king?

Spoiler: Click to view

OR + ?

The Statikk Shiv is usually the best route if you went ahead in lane or if the enemy has very little to no armor on their team. Realistically, you'd want to get this item fast as possible after The Bloodthirster so maximize the use you'll get out of it. A Zeal and Last Whisper will end up better if you fall behind, or if your opponents are stacking some early armor to counter you.

Offensive Items

An Infinity Edge gives you a good burst of damage and increases your critical hit damage by a good amount. It's pretty much a necessity

If you went for a Zeal and Last Whisper, you'll most likely be building your Zeal into a Phantom Dancer by that point. The attack speed is great and synergizes with your Blighted Quiver passive.

Go for a Last Whisper if you see that the enemy is stacking armor and you aren't doing enough damage late game. It's essential.

A Blade of the Ruined King is a good 6th item if you're going a full glass cannon build. It'll shred tanks late-game. If you went The Bloodthirster first, it's not completely recommended as anything other than last.

Defensive Late-Game Items

Banshee's Veil is a great item if you're against a double AP team comp, such as Ahri and Rumble or Rumble and Vladimir. It can block a fatal Charm or the burst from a Vladimir Transfusion.

Guardian Angel is good if you feel like you're the biggest threat on your team. If you're confident in your ability to survive after you respawn, get this. If not, then go something else, such as Banshee's Veil or a Mercurial Scimitar.

Mercurial Scimitar is an item introduced in season 3, upgrading from the Quicksilver Sash. The AD from it is pretty good. Most importantly, the Mercurial Scimitar provides a good amount of magic resist, and the "cleanse" aspect of it comes in handy incase you've already used Cleanse or if you've took barrier.


This enchantment is a little bit more situational than others. If you feel like you're getting dived on a lot and your team isn't helping, the decreased cooldown on your Flash will help tremendously during fights.

If you need to kite around your enemies, get furor. Most of the time, it'll be what enchantment you're getting.

The only reason you should have homeguards is if your base is getting pushed in. If not, it doesn't provide you any stats during a fight. You'd be better off getting Enchantment: Furor or Enchantment: Distortion.

AD Carries
Difficulty Scale: 5/5

Ashe Difficulty: 1/5

Ashe is a pretty easy AD carry for Varus to lane against. She doesn't really have any tools to effectively trade with you. For the most part/ you can zone her out of the lane and pressure her very hard. When she steps up to CS, try to get an auto or 2 on her, then hit her with a Hail of Arrows. This is great harass and she doesn't really have an answer for it. You can even walk up and just trade autos with her, because she is so weak early. Be careful of her Enchanted Crystal Arrow combined with a jungler gank at level 6 though.

Caitlyn Difficulty: 4/5

Caitlyn is one of the few champions that can actually stand up to Varus in lane. Her absurd amount of range means that she will be able to farm against you, for the most part, and will even get free autos when you are CSing as well. You are going to have to spam your Hail of Arrows a lot in this matchup. You want to force trades with her a lot because she can't win them unless you facetank Piltover Peacemaker. Watch out for her Yordle Snap Traps. Make sure she doesn't get control of the lane and push it to tower. Try to just poke her down in this lane, and go for an all in when she's low. Once you are 6, you have serious kill potential on her if she actually gets caught with a Chain of Corruption at sub 70% HP.

Draven Difficulty: 5/5

Everyone should know by now that Draven will be the hardest ADC to fight against in the bottom lane. As Varus you can SOMEWHAT deal with this, but it is still very hard. You cannot win trades with him. All you can really do is poke. You want to try and hit him a couple times when he's CSing and then land a Hail of Arrows on him, then back out. It's very important that you don't take free Spinning Axes from him because 2-3 will drop you to half HP. Draven can't be a man and all in you if he is low on HP. Make sure you CONTINUE to spam your Hail of Arrows on him at any opportunity you get. Your goal in this lane is for him to be low all the time and to possibly push him into turret. Draven is very vulnerable to CC so, at level 6 you can set up a gank with your jungler, land a Chain of Corruption, and he will probably die with some followup.

Ezreal Difficulty: 2/5

Ezreal is pretty easy to deal with as Varus in lane if you play it correctly. Mystic Shot can poke for a bit of health early. He can't really trade with you effectively if you stand behind minions, so when playing against Ezreal, that is what you should be doing. You can trade with him, auto for auto, and come out ahead. That also puts up some Blighted Quiver stacks and you can capitalize with an Hail of Arrows when he starts to retreat. Levels 1-5 in this lane are pretty much a breeze. Keep forcing trades and pressuring the lane very hard. At 6, you have to be a bit careful. Ezreal gains a lot of power with his Trueshot Barrage. Even if he has been losing the lane up until this point, he can land a good combo with all of his abilities. You can literally be one-shot. DODGE SKILLSHOTS!

Graves Difficulty: 4/5

Graves is what I consider to be the counter of Varus in lane. You need to be very careful when fighting against him. Graves has the ability to beat you easily in an all in, and if he lands his Buckshot he will win trades against you as well. You can try to poke him down, but if he is smart it probably won't be very effective. He can just Quickdraw into your face and burst you down. Just try to play this as a farm lane for the most part, and never give Graves the opportunity to get in your face.

Miss Fortune Difficulty: 2/5

Varus does really well against Miss Fortune. They are both known as "lane dominating" ADCs, but Varus definitely has an edge. You want to knock off her Strut with poke from your Hail of Arrows. This makes her a lot easier to harass and trade with in lane. When she has her Impure Shots active, you basically want to avoid trading. Other than that, you can much win with Blighted Quiver combos, or you can just stand back and easily poke her down with Hail of Arrows spam.

Vayne Difficulty: 1/5

Probably the easiest lane for Varus. You dumpster this lane. You can honestly just walk forward and trade autos with Vayne and there is nothing she can do about it. Play the lane very aggressive the whole time, and make sure you zone her while punishing her for any CS she goes for. At 6, be careful about dueling her. You should still be able to win an all in if you land your Chain of Corruption, but if you get Condemned into a wall you can definitely die.

On your team: Blitzcrank isn't the worst or best support to pair with Varus. If he lands a Rocket Grab on your lane opponent after level 6, you'll probably have a kill under belt if you manage to land your Chain of Corruption and proc your Blighted Quiver passive. You two have a lot of burst paired together.

Against: Blitzcrank can be somewhat tough to play against. You have no escape, leaving you as prey for him to Rocket Grab. Make sure to have your support ward the side bushes so you can see when he's getting ready for a grab. Stand behind minions so he can't grab you!

On your team: Janna is a good support to pair with Varus. Her Eye Of The Storm increases the damage of Piercing Arrow and Hail of Arrows, while still blocking the enemy's harass. Her Zephyr provides a good slow on the enemy, and Howling Gale is a good peel and CC, allowing you to poke at them when they're knocked up. Finally, Monsoon is another great disengage.

Against: Against Janna, you just need to be careful of when you trade. You can poke and a bait an Eye Of The Storm out, and then back away. Once the shield is done, you can go back in for good damage. It's really never wise to trade into the Eye Of The Storm. Just continue to poke at Janna lanes, they generally have no sustain so all damage will stick. Howling Gale and Monsoon provide easy disengages. Her Zephyr provides her movement speed so if you chase her, you might have a rough time.

On your team: Leona is pretty decent to pair with Varus. It's a good all-in lane with tons of kill potential because of the amount of CC this lane combo brings at level 6. If Leona manages to land a Solar Flare into Zenith Blade and Shield of Daybreak, make sure to follow up with a Chain of Corruption and Hail of Arrows while auto-attacking between.

Against: Leona can prove to be annoying to lane against as Varus, solely because you have no escape. You can easily poke her down at early levels though, and that's what you want to do. If you poke her down, she will think twice about trying to all-in you. You just have to be careful though. Have your support sight ward or Vision Ward the bushes. Avoid her Solar Flare> Zenith Blade> Shield of Daybreak combo at all costs. Consider taking Cleanse against Leona.

On your team: Lulu is an okay support with Varus. There's a lot of poke in this lane from Help, Pix! and Glitterlance with Hail of Arrows and Piercing Arrow. Glitterlance debuffs the enemy with an 80% slow, so it allows you to land a few more shots on them before they can get out of your range. Her shield won't be too strong, but the Pix passive will give you a little extra damage. Whimsy is great for catching enemies. Wild Growth will, at one point, save your life.

Against: Lulu is an annoying support to play against. Her Glitterlance slow will make it hard to chase her and her teammates while Whimsy will speed her or her ally up, or she can polymorph you during a skirmish. Help, Pix! isn't too much of a problem though. Try to poke her early on in lane to gain an advantage because she doesn't have any innate sustain. Wild Growth will probably save her ally from the killing blow, resulting in one less kill for you.

On your team: Nami is another great support to pair with Varus. Her Tidecaller's Blessing slow is great and when paired with your Hail of Arrows allow her to land an easy Aqua Prison, usually resulting in blown summoners spells or a kill. Ebb and Flow gives good sustain in lane and does a little bit of poke damage. At 6, make sure to follow up with Chain of Corruption if she uses Tidal Wave and Aqua Prison for an easy double kill early on.

Against: The thing you most want to be careful about when playing against Nami is her Aqua Prison stun and Tidecaller's Blessing slow. Her Aqua Prison can be deceiving because of its cast time. She'll most likely try to land it in the path that you're running. If she lands an Aqua Prison, it'll most likely result in a lot of damage, a summoner spell, a kill, or all three. Her Ebb and Flow is good sustain in lane too. To dodge her Tidal Wave, try to dodge to the sides, rather than to try and outrun it.

On your team: Sona is one of the best supports with Varus. She will make the lane easier for you because of the power she has. The poke from this lane is incredible because of her Hymn of Valor and Power Chord. She's very strong in lane because of the amount of damage she can put out. Hymn of Valor also gives a little bit AD to you. Aria of Perseverance gives a decent sustain in lane. At level 6, your enemy is guaranteed to be dead if you follow up on Crescendo onto them. Combined with your Chain of Corruption, they'll be dead before they know it. Song of Celerity is good mid-game for escaping and chasing.

Against: When you're facing a Sona, you want to try to avoid her Hymn of Valor and Power Chord as much as possible. It does quite a bit of damage early on. When trading, be careful and see if she utilizes her different Power Chords. A Aria of Perseverance powered Power Chord will reduce your damage by 20% which may not seem like much, but can turn a trade in their favor. Watch out for a Flash and a Crescendo onto you and your support. It may result in a double kill for the enemy carry.

On your team: Thresh is a great support with anyone. His Death Sentence is basically Blitzcrank's Rocket Grab. Be sure to follow up if his hook lands onto the enemy. Usually, it'll result in a kill. Thresh has a lot of utility. His Flay can stop channelled spells such as Leona's Zenith Blade and Zac's Elastic Slingshot. The Box is a good engage and disengage with the massive slow it provides. Dark Passage combined with Death Sentence can make great plays.

Against: Thresh can be hard to play against as Varus. Because of your lack of a built in escape, if he lands a Death Sentence, expect to use Flash or some other summoner spell. His Dark Passage allows for easy jungle ganks so you'll have to watch out for that. Flay displaces movement, allowing you to be moved closer to him. The Box will almost guarantee a kill on you or your support. The slow is very strong combined with his kit and ability to catch out unwary enemies.

Varus' strength lies in the early laning phase. He is known as a bully in lane, and this is how you should be playing him. At level one, you are not THAT strong. All you will have is your Hail of Arrows for a little bit of poke, so don't be too aggressive. When you hit 2 is when the fun really starts though. At 2, you will pick up your Blighted Quiver. You can now combo the stacks for a lot of damage, and your autos also do bonus damage. Varus has a decently long range of 575. You want to try and auto your opponent while they are CSing. They will most likely try to back out of your range, or trade with you. Either way, you'll get 2-3 attacks in, followed up with a Hail of Arrows, which will chunk them with. It's very easy for you to get these free autos on your opponent because of the 20% steroid from Living Vengeance which should be up 99% of the time in lane. Once you poke someone down enough with your Hail of Arrows, you can zone them because of their HP deficit. Just be wary of how hard you push the lane as Varus. You have no way of escaping (and you walk funny) so since you are dominating lane, the enemy jungler will probably want to gank you. At 6, with your Chain of Corruption you can easily force an all in on a lot of champions, either with just you and your support or with help from the jungler.

You'll want to poke with your Piercing Arrow on squishies before the teamfight starts. With The Bloodthirster, a max range Piercing Arrow can do over 500 damage, which is significant poke damage.

This is another one of Varus' strong point. As with ANY ADC, you want to prioritize good positioning and stay in the back, out of harm's way. Hitting tanks is completely fine with Varus because he can easily shred them with his Blighted Quiver combos as they do percentage damage. When the fight is actually starting, you want to be aware and gauge what is happening. If you see that your team engaged and caught a priority target, don't be afraid to throw out your Chain of Corruption to secure the kill. If your team is getting engaged on, just kite backwards and use Chain of Corruption on the first person that gets to you. Afterwards, start unloading damage on them. It's very IMPORTANT that even in teamfights you try to pop your Blighted Quiver stacks. A lot of people just spam their abilities, but unless you have 2-3 blight stacks up before you use your abilities, you aren't doing your maximum amount of damage. If you do happen to get a kill in a teamfight, your damage will skyrocket because of Living Vengeance giving you 40% increased attack speed. This will allow you to do massive damage, and probably cleanup whatever stragglers are left.